Al Gore promised to provide prescription drugs “coverage for all” American senior citizens if elected president. Republicans, afraid of not jumping on the bandwagon and missing out on the next elections, joined the Democrats, and committed to a plan that also makes “coverage available for all seniors.”

Most members of both parties assume that senior citizens have a “right to health care,” which includes a “right to prescription drugs.” It is very tempting for seniors, or soon to be seniors, to believe they have such a right.

But if seniors had a right to receive medical care, then others would be legally bound to provide it for them — non-seniors would be forced by law to support seniors’ medical needs.

In a free society no man should have a legal claim to the life and property of another. In justice, no man should have a right to demand that another surrender his effort, his money or his property — not even to pay for seniors’ medical bills. This type of demand amounts to a crime, whether the criminal is a man, a gang, or the US government.

Any use of force against a human being is morally wrong and is a violation of his individual rights and of his freedom. Government exists to protect our individual rights, not to violate them. There are no “noble” causes that would justify a reversal of government’s role from enforcer to destroyer of rights. This reversal has always proven to have terrible consequences.

Let’s take a look at what happened to Canada’s socialized healthcare system. In Canada, the government is the sole provider of medical care, the single boss of all physicians, and the universal insurer of all patients. The Canadian government is a health care monopoly.

In such a system, it is the state that determines who should treat whom, at what price, and in what manner. Their bureaucrats act as dictators. Doctors are not free to choose their patients, and patients are not free to choose their doctors.

It should be no surprise that Canada is desperately short of medical specialists. Since government determines their wages, few people want to be doctors there. In Canada, doctors receive only $3 for an exam given in a hospital emergency room. A complete check up in their own offices would earn them $10.

Because government owns most medical facilities and equipment, doctors also have to make do with scarce resources and lack of medical hardware to properly treat their patients — Canada now has fewer MRI scanners per capita than Turkey.

Canadian medical researchers, doctors, and nurses are as good as their American counterparts. Yet instead of enjoying the benefits of a capitalist free market in medicine where they can thrive and make money, they are subject to a socialist controlled system where they must stagnate, intellectually and financially.

No wonder Canadian doctors and nurses are flocking to the US in large numbers, in search of freedom from government control and financial recognition for their work. Dr. Hugh Scully, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said Canada is suffering “a very serious” brain drain of doctors, with 50% of medical school graduates leaving the country within 10 years of graduation and 25% more leaving within 15 years of earning their medical degree.

In Canada people gave up their freedom for a promise of security. Now they have neither. Do we want to see our health care system destroyed in the near future, as happened to Canada and all other socialist regimes that tried it?

Let us choose freedom.

Let us voluntarily decide if we want to help others or not, and under what circumstances. Let’s not make charity into law and health care into a right. It is wrong to assume that people won’t come forth to help each other, and especially to force them to contribute. No decent person would like to see elderly people suffer from lack of medical treatment or prescription drugs. But the solution to increase the availability of drugs is not more government-forced charity. The solution is not Socialism, but Capitalism, the system that created the drugs in the first place.

Only under Capitalism it is possible to achieve all the medical advances necessary to improve our health and extend our lives, including seniors’ lives. Hopefully, we will all be seniors one day. And we must understand that it is only in a free market that new drugs, medical tools, and treatments can be developed. It is only in freedom that researchers, doctors and nurses can exercise their professions to the best of their ability and be properly rewarded for their effort and their competence. It is only in freedom that good health care is possible.

Let’s repeal all aspects of socialized medicine, including the idea of a “right” to prescription drugs. The health of our seniors, as well as our own, depends on that.

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David Holcberg

David Holcberg, a former civil engineer and businessman, is now a writer living in Southern California. He is also a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.